Telangana makes new bed fellows

The political drama that unfolded prior to the cureent round of Rajya Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh may throw light on the kind of political formations we can expect for the next general elections.

The state, on the brink of a division, is witnessing new alliances in the run-up to the elections, some tacit and some open. However, political parties are keeping their cards close to their chest as two sets of conditions are staring at them. “If the state remains united at the time of elections, they (political parties) may act differently,” says political observer Nemani Bhaskar.  A division of the state may change the scenario.

The RS nominations saw polarisation of political parties on regional lines. The Telangana faction of the Congress, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the CPI– all in favour of separate Telangana - have come together, despite the TRS’s hesitation to merge with the Congress before elections. The need for mutual support is such that the Congress fielded only three candidates to benefit the TRS nominee, Kesava Rao, who had shifted allegiance from Congress. Congress, though, had enough strength to bring home the fourth with the support of other parties, particularly its old ally the Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), a strong force in Hyderabad. 

The MIM initially favoured a united Andhra Pradesh, but soon realised that its future lies within the Telangana region and has dropped enough indications that it might want to come back to the Congress fold. Its efforts to gather support to carve Rayala Telangana, a state with all 10 districts of Telangana and two districts Kurnool and Anantapur with sizeable Muslim population, have failed leaving it with no option but to side with the Congress and the TRS. “We can rule out MIM’s alliance with the Telugu Desam because of Chandrababu Naidu’s open praise for BJP’s Narendra Modi and his possible pre-poll alliance with NDA,”  says Prof Nageswar of Department of Journalism, Osmania University.

TDP a burden

However, unlike 2004 when the Telugu Desam Party played an important role in national politics, it will now be in the TDP’s interest to go with the NDA as the regional party is pitted against a formidable Congress-TRS combine in Telangana and Y S Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSRC in Seemandhra. The woes of the TDP might not end there as any agreement reached with the BJP might not get endorsement from its cadre in Telangana. 

For, the Telangana branch of the BJP, with its somewhat strong presence in the region, feels that the TDP will be a burden too heavy to carry with Naidu not so vociferous in support for the separate Telangana. The CPI, which has announced its support for Telangana, is backing the TRS candidate Rao for the RS seat. The MIM might also go with the lone TRS candidate. The CPM is sticking with its support to linguistic states and will continue its close ties with the TDP in Seemandhra region.

Loksatta -AAP

The Loksatta, a party run by former bureaucrat Jayaparkash Narain, is trying hard to sail with the AAP in an effort to erase its pro-Seemandhra image to get a strong footing elsewhere, particularly in Telangana. With the AAP making it clear that it is in support of smaller states and asking the Loksatta to merge with the AAP, ` JP’  has startled every one by announcing that Telangana is a necessity and that its creation is inevitable. “If we join hands with the AAP in our fight against corruption, we will gain both the states,” says Loksatta leader Kathari.

 The residual state of Andhra Pradesh or the Seemandhra has been witnessing a symbiotic bonhomie between arch rivals the TDP and the Congress since the emergence of the YSRC, a common enemy to both the parties with traditional vote banks of their own.  

“With Jagan gathering enough support and touring the length and breadth of Seemandhra in the shape of “Odarpu Yatra” and now the “Samaikhya Shankharavam”, the Congress and the TDP have developed  cold feet and are working in tandem to defeat YSRC candidates,” says former TDP minister and now YSRC leader Ummareddy Venkateswarlu.   He says that either of the party will field a weak candidate so that anti-Jagan votes could be consolidated, even without the arch rivals coming together under an open alliance.

“There is already a tacit understanding between the Congress and the TDP even in the Assembly,” according to YSRC MLA Sobha Nagireddy. Even if the state stays united till the elections, there will not be any change of fate for the Congress in the Seemandhra region as its candidates are bound to get a severe drubbing. The Congress is seen as the number one enemy that bifurcated the state and people might even ignore the corruption charges against Jagan and vote for the YSRC at the cost of the TDP for its ambiguous stand on a united state.

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